Justine Greening. Photo: independent.co.uk
The Secretary of State for international development, Justine Greening announced plans on Thursday to fight the scourge of child marriage in the UK and around the world.
The MP made the call while on a trip to Zambia where she is attending an empowerment programme for adolescent girls in Lusaka, the Zambian capital.
“There are too many girls around the world who reach adolescence and find their future is already written. Before their childhood is even over they are married and having children themselves,” she said.
Ms Greening further added that the UK government was “determined to end child and forced marriage, including in Britain where thousands of girls are at risk of being forced to marry.”
Reports from child charities suggest that as many as 1 in 3 girls are married in some parts of the world before the age of 18 with 1 in 9 married off before turning 15 in many developing countries.
The top three countries in the world with the highest prevalence of child marriage are Guinea, Bangladesh and Niger, others being Chad and Mali.
Girls exposed to marriage before puberty face the risk of developing medical conditions including vesicovaginal fistula and many also face the risk of dying during child-birth.
A girl summit scheduled for later this month will be hosted by David Cameron who will urge the international community to put an end to forced marriage and female genital mutilation.